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Jovita Idar was an important figure during the Women’s Movement in Texas. She was a journalist and an activist that fought for women rights. Jovita focused on fighting for the women rights as well as that of Mexicans. She was born in 1885, in Larendo Texas. She believed that she could play a huge part by focusing on activism as well as writing (Medina N.p.). Jovita used their newspaper to fight separatist as well as inferior housing and schools. Also, she spoke out against the abysmal conditions that Tejano workers faced. She wrote about equal rights for women and encouraged them to educate themselves.
Additionally, she was keen to encourage them to seek autonomy from men. Jovita call for women education as she believed that educating women would enhance the society as a whole (Medina N.p.). She maintained that when you educate a woman, you educate a family. She was involved in various projects that sought to inspire women. For instance, in 1911, she started Liga Femenil Mexicanista which focused on inspiring women. During the same year women were granted the right to vote. Jovita was impressed by the ruling and she called women in Texas to raise their chins proudly and face the fight.
Moreover, Jovita fought for Mexico’s national heroes as well as Mexican-American history. She called for introduction of Spanish in school. Jovita emphasized on educating poor children (Medina N.p.). However, fighting for the women’s rights was a major project that she undertook with great pleasure. She was determined to ensure that women enjoyed their rights. She believed that the modern woman had great potential. Hence, she was focused on helping them achieve their full potential through education.
Jovita was involved in activism during the Progressive-Era reform movement in the U.S (Masarik 284). The era was characterized with social activism as well as political reform in the U.S. During this period reformers were focused on creating a better society by encouraging government regulation and protecting the vulnerable populations. The population included women and children. Jovita is a great example of women activists that led the fight for women rights.
She proficiently navigated the transforming gendered landscape (Masarik 289). Jovita was vocal about educating women and children from the Spanish -speaking community. One thing that appealed to me about Jovita is her resilience and ability to bring women together. She was on the forefront starting projects that would help women. For instance, she started League of Mexican Women. According to Jovita, if women were better educated, they would have the ability to provide for their families as they could earn better wages (Masarik 292). Hence, women would contribute to the growth of La raza and the entire community. She maintains that women who had equal education as men would be at a better position to help the Tejano family as well as the community.
What I find provocative about her work is that she could employ politics and rhetoric that considered women as caretakers as well as mothers of la raza (Masarik 292). She maintained that women of Mexican heritage were strong, educated and focused on helping their families. Her stand about women shows that she believed that they were equal to men and they required the same opportunities to contribute to the society. She was changing the ideology that women are only fit to raise a family and take care of the household. Her beliefs are important to my personal experience as most of the times women are denied equal rights in the society.
Feminist Movements is one of the themes that relate to Jovita’s legacy. The movements used critical reflection about the world to transform it. One of the agender of feminist movements especially during the first wave, is to ensure that women were granted the right to vote (Saraswati 80). It started in the mid-19th century until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920. Women activists call for the abolition of coverture as well as ensuring that women accessed to employment and education. They were determined to ensure that women were offered equal rights as men. They ensured that women were educated rather than being left at home taking care of the household.
The theme relates to the Jovita’s activism. First, she was focused on fighting for the rights of women. Jovita was focused on ensuring that women accessed better education (Masarik 291). She was determined to make sure that women were not only left to handle house chores. Instead, she believed that if women were educated, they could be at a better position to provide for their families. She maintained that they were strong and educated. Her ideas about women corresponded with the Feminist movements. Just like the women’s movement, Jovita called for equal wages for women. During the Feminist movement the activists argued that the ballot would open a lot of opportunities for women. They will be able to access schools, colleges and all the opportunities as well as advantages of life.
Jovita held the same thoughts of women being free and accessing better education (Masarik 292). She maintained that education could be beneficial for women as well as the community. According to her, instructions elevated the woman. She continued to hold that a woman who possessed knowledge would focus on trying to keep herself beyond certain moral level (Masarik 292). She would ensure that she made herself better and purer. She used her articles to urge women to educate themselves. She called for her female readers to reassess their education as well as their place beyond their homes.
The feminist movements were focused on ensuring that women had equal rights as men in the society. Some of the major themes during the time included right to vote and access to education. Jovita was dedicated her works to ensuring that women accessed education. It is evident that her work corresponded with that of other feminists during the time. They were determined to make sure that women contributed to the society. They would get better wages as their male counterparts.
Mexican Women’s History in Texas
Mexican Women’s history relates to Jovita’s legacy. First, during the 19th century Mexican workers were important. However, only a few Mexican-origin women worked for wages. Based on gender ideology, Mexican women were required to marry, raise children and be protect by men. Therefore, it shows that women were considered as inferior to men. Working away from home was considered to be a disgrace (Orozco 22). Women who worked outside their homes were considered to fail motherhood. They regarded as handicap to the physical as well as moral well-being of the offspring. Mainly, women were considered to work at home or informal sector (Orozco 23). They would also work as street vendors. In 1930, around 17,000 Mexican-origin women worked as domestics. Also, during that time about 5,425 Mexican-origin women worked as farmworkers in Texas.
Due to the fact that women rarely participated in the workforce and were given low wages, children were forced to work (Orozco 25). During the 1920s, there was no independent Mexico Texana female middle-class. Women were not allowed to own large businesses (Orozco 23). Mostly, women who gained status without the help of men were clerks. Some of the employees refused to employee women in their businesses. The theme is related to Jovita’s legacy as she focused on helping women of Mexican origin. She was dedicated to ensuring that they get education. She believed that educating a woman equated to educating the society.
She emphasized on encouraging them to educate themselves (Masarik 292). Although women were not allowed to work, she was determined to ensure that they were financially independent. Jovita encouraged women readers to reassess their life and start reading. She also maintains that they should transform their life and sought for jobs outside their homes. Jovita was vocal about educating women and children from the Spanish -speaking community. She was on the forefront starting projects that would help women. For instance, she started League of Mexican Women (Medina N.P.). According to Jovita, if women were better educated, they would have the ability to provide for their families as they could earn better wages. She was changing the ideology that women are only fit to raise a family and take care of the household (Masarik 292). Her beliefs are important to my personal experience as most of the times women are denied equal rights in the society. She wanted to ensure that women played a good role in the society. Therefore, she used her articles to encourage women to be independent.
Masarik, Elizabeth Garner. “Por La Raza, Para La Raza: Jovita Idar and Progressive-Era Mexicana Maternalism along the Texas-Mexico Border.” Southwestern Historical Quarterly, vol. 122, no. 3, 2019, pp. 278–299.
Medina, Jennifer. “Overlooked No More: Jovita Idár, Who Promoted Rights of Mexican
Americans and Women.” N.Y. Times, 19 Aug. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/08/07/obituaries/jovita-idar-overlooked.html.
Civil Rights Movement. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009. Print.
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Saraswati, L A. Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: Interdisciplinary
and Intersectional Approaches. Oxford University Press, 2017. Print.
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